Abstract

Membrane bioreactor (MBR) has been proven to be an efficient technology capable of treating various industrial effluents. However, the evaluation of its performances in the case of olive mill wastewater (OMW) over a conventional activated sludge (CAS) have not been determined yet. The present study aims to compare OMW treatment in two laboratory scale pilots: an external ceramic MBR and CAS starting with an acclimation step in both reactors by raising OMW concentration progressively. After the acclimation step, the reactors received OMW at 2 gCOD/L with respect to an organic loading rate of 0.2 and 0.3 kgCOD/kgMLVSS/d for MBR and CAS, respectively. Biomass acclimation occurred successfully in both systems; however, the MBR tolerated more OMW toxicity than CAS as the MBR always maintained an effluent with a better quality. At a stable state, a higher reduction of 95% chemical oxygen demand (COD) was obtained with MBR compared to CAS (86%), but both succeeded in polyphenols removal (80%). Moreover, a higher MLSS elimination from the MBR treated water (97%) was measured against 88% for CAS. Therefore, CAS was suitable for OMW treatment and MBR could be proposed as an alternative to CAS when a better quality of treated water is required.

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